15 December 2007

Me, Linnaeus and a big ol' tusker

Thanks to Agnes Balla, Beagle enthusiast and Project Specialist for the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL), who snapped this picture at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in November:

Nunatak FLS, and Carl Linnaeus* at the Smithsonian.

Notice how my meeting with Linnaeus is marked by the presence of a very large African bull elephant raising his trunk in approval (uhh, I sure hope no experts in elephant behaviour are reading this). And oh what a perfect post this would have been if Linnaeus had in fact named that species of elephant. Linnaeus did name an elephant in 1758, but it was the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). The African elephant, Loxodonta africana, was named by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in 1797.

Lest you think this post has no place on the Beagle Project Blog, I will remind you that the famous Darwin-Wallace joint paper on natural selection was read at the Linnean Society of London on 1 July, 1858 (complete text available here). Not only that, but Darwin was himself a Fellow of the Linnean Society.

*Hans Odöö, professional Linnaeus impersonator



Damn, when I was five, I dreamed of being a professional Linnaeus impersonator ... well, didn't we all ... but my parents convinced me there was no demand for it! (muttering...)

Anthony said...

Very nice!
I'm a big fan of Linnaeus too (and a Fellow of the Linnean Society) - I was commissioned by the Society to sculpt a bust of the young Linnaeus for their Tercentenary celebrations. It was displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show garden that the Linn.Soc. did (and we won silver gilt medal, yey!).
It's good that Linnaeus has been getting a bit more publicity this year - he was a great scientist and deserves more recognition outside his native Sweden.

You can see a pic of the bust on the Linn.Soc. website...

Anthony Smith FLS